This summer, Disney will continue its journey to remake all their classic movies from your childhood with “The Lion King.” To say that I’m not excited for this would be a huge lie. Jon Favreau returns to the directors chair after the financial and critical success of another Disney remake “The Jungle Book”. “The Lion King” features an all-star cast of voices including Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, and James Earl Jones. It has all the makings of a terrific movie. There is one little thing I have to make clear about this movie. This is just an updated, animated version of “The Lion King,” not a live action remake.
I’ve heard many people call this live action which I just don’t think is accurate. Sure, there’s groundbreaking technology involved in the making of this film. Carolyn Giardina wrote in an article for the Hollywood Reporter that the crew of “The Lion King” had virtual reality headsets that enables crew to walk around the environment like they’re really there. I’m in awe just hearing about that! But, for it to be considered live action, I feel that the actors have to actually be ‘on set’ for the filming. Despite the abundance of computer generated images, CGI, in Favreau’s “The Jungle Book,” I still consider it to be live action by the skin of its teeth. The actor playing Mowgli, Neel Sethi, is still running around and interacting with his environment even though the film was entirely shot in a Los Angeles film studio. Motion capture was used sparingly to make the animals more anthropomorphic, as seems to be the case with “The Lion King,” but for the most part, actors spent their time in the sound studio recording their voices. However, for me, motion capture suits is not the deciding factor.
One actor who typifies live action movies is the brilliant Andy Serkis. Known more for his motion capture performances than his normal ones. From Gollum in “Lord of Rings” and “The Hobbit”, to King Kong, to Caesar in the criminally overlooked “Planet of the Apes” trilogy, to, ironically, Baloo in his own version of “The Jungle Book, Mowgli,” Serkis’ resume is full of amazing motion capture performances.. What sets Serkis’ motion capture apart is that like Mowgli in both “The Jungle Book” and “Mowgli,” he interacts in not only a real environment, but with real actors, not just a green screen. He was actually there on set with actors like Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, James Franco, and Woody Harrelson. I still remember the goosebumps I felt when Caesar caught the taser stick swung at him and yelled “No!” That was Andy Serkis catching Tom Felton’s hand! The new “Lion King” doesn’t have anything like that. It wouldn’t necessarily need humans to be considered live action, but the actors would at least have move and interact with their environment. While I look forward to some stunning visuals in the new ANIMATED “Lion King,” those visuals are all CGI. Without live interaction between actors on a set this film simply is not live action.
— Nick Loduca, Volunteer Writer